As the Washington Post reports, President Trump is expected to sign compromise legislation preventing another government shutdown…but he’s also going to declare a “national emergency” so that he can siphon off more money for his big ol’ border wall:
President Trump is prepared to sign a massive spending and border security deal, while at the same time declaring a national emergency to get more money to build his border wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.
McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor, and told senators to prepare to vote shortly on the legislation that would stave off a government shutdown Friday at midnight.
“The president will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly,” McConnell said.
McConnell also said he’d told the president he would support the emergency declaration, which would allow the president to circumvent Congress and use the military to build his wall. McConnell has voiced opposition for weeks to the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency. [Pols emphasis]
This is a pretty abrupt change from McConnell, and as you’ll see in a moment, it appears to be a surprise to other Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Earlier today, Gardner appeared with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) for an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. This exact topic was the first item of discussion:
WARNER: Senator Gardner, let’s do a reality check here. Congress controls the purse strings for the most part. Is it realistic for the President to get the wall built without Congress?
GARDNER: Well, again, you’d have to check the legal authorities that might be there, but I don’t think he should do anything without Congress’ approval. It’s important for Congress to have the appropriate oversight. That’s why this deal is, I think, a compromise that he will sign. I believe he will. Nancy Pelosi said she would not allow one dollar to go to the barrier, barriers on the border. President Trump said he wanted $5.7 billion, and this is a reasonable path forward allowing the government to maintain itself in operation while also providing border security.
WARNER: So how do you get the message to him perhaps that you don’t want him to declare a national emergency, as has been hinted, or raid other funds for this?
GARDNER: Well, it’s pretty simple. I can tell him that in person, that I think Congress needs to do its job.
WARNER: Have you done that?
GARDNER: I have.
Gardner hasn’t missed many opportunities to lavish praise on President Trump lately, perhaps in part because Colorado Republicans remain oddly enamored with the big orange guy (unfortunately for Gardner, the rest of Colorado disagrees with both Trump and his wall).
Just last month, Gardner became one of the first high-profile Republicans to officially endorse Trump’s re-election campaign, which earned him a Presidential Tweet. But when it comes down to policy issues, for everything from a border wall to North Korea, Trump has no problem stepping over Gardner.
Politically-speaking, this could soon get much worse for Gardner and friends. As CNN noted earlier this week, the “national emergency” approach has long terrified Congressional Republicans:
That’s because doing so could set off a chain of events on Capitol Hill that risks splitting the Republican conference, undercutting other parts of Trump’s agenda and likely opening the administration’s actions to legal challenges. It would also provide a clarifying moment that Republicans on the Hill have managed to avoid since Trump took office — casting an up or down vote on whether to build the full-scale wall Trump desires.
According to federal law, Congress can rescind a presidential emergency declaration by passing a joint resolution. In the likely event that such a bill would be vetoed by the President, Congress could then override it with a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House.
The danger to congressional Republicans isn’t having to overcome a presidential veto, but in having to vote on the resolution itself. Any such measure would be considered privileged — if, for example, the House passed it then the Senate would be required by law to vote on the measure within 18 days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be powerless to stop a floor vote.
Gardner says that he has told Trump directly that he disagrees with a “national emergency” declaration — which didn’t seem to make any difference to Trump. Gardner might soon have to cast a vote on this very issue, which will most certainly make a difference with Colorado voters in 2020.
Loyalty has its price. When it comes to Gardner and Trump, only one person appears to be making any payments.